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A   S t u d y    G u i d e

by Peter Newton

Traditionally, the business world has been seen by many as an adversarial, dog-eat-dog environment plagued by win-lose dealings, in which only the strongest survive. More recently, however, diverse industries have been seeing more and more examples of mutualistic, win-win business models based on relationships of cooperation and mutual benefit, either as spontaneous, unplanned social phenomena or as the outcome of intentional movements and discourse interventions. Today, mutualism in trade is no longer seen as an idyllic, impractical dream; rather, it is being increasingly recognized as the future scenario towards which global business trends appear to be moving.

This study guide is designed to help you investigate a few of the main forms that mutualism has taken in business. There is no prepared text for this topic. Rather, we will depend on your ability to surf the Web and find what you need. The study questions and links are only suggestions; you are encouraged to explore as far and as deeply as you feel inclined, in order to gain an good understanding of each area. In the next class, you will have the opportunity to discuss your findings with your classmates and the teacher. Remember: a business approach does not have to be 100% mutualistic in order to represent a major change and teach us valuable lessons!

1.    Cooperative Economics:

·         How is it defined or described, from at least these three viewpoints (or more):  Political Economy (Marxist, the ‘Third Way’); Religious (Christian, Islamic); and Afro-American / Pan-African (Ujamaa)?

·         List some of the many practical forms that cooperative economics has taken so far.

·         What do you think are its proponents’ visions for the future? Do you think this vision is achievable? How? Would cooperative economics work on a global scale?

2.    Corporate Values / Principles:

·         What specific place do corporate values, principles or philosophy have within the strategic planning process? How do they relate to the other elements of it?

·         Look at the value statements of several corporations and make a list of the most common ones. Why do you think they concentrate on these particular values? What do they have to do with building a culture of peace?

·         Cite at least three companies about what benefit they obtain from having – and from acting in accordance to – clear, shared corporate values.

3.    Teamwork within a Business Environment:

·         Cite cases illustrating the main advantages of teamwork in at least three areas: decision-making; administration; and manufacture?

·         How are people motivated and rewarded when working in teams? How to avoid ‘freeloading’ by team members?

·         What implications might this development have for international relations?

4.    Coopetition or Coopertition:

·         First, what does “competition” mean in economics? How does this compare or contrast with the common use of “competition”, in sports and other fields.

·         How is coopetition o coopertition defined? Give some concrete examples of what it has looked like so far in practice.

·         What problem was it created to solve, or what needs was is created to satisfy?

·         Is this really a sign of a new spirit of cooperative economics, or just a new, improved way to compete? Cite at least one author who defends each point of view, and then give your own opinion.

5.    Corporate Social Responsibility:

·         Quote at least three definitions, and then write your definition in your own words.

·         Cite some concrete examples of what it has looked like so far in practice.

·         Does this tend to be just another way to enhance corporate images, or is it often motivated by a sincere interest in helping to solve pressing issues in the world?

6.    Wikinomics / Macrowikinomics:

·         Quote at least three definitions, and then write your definition in your own words.

·         Cite some concrete examples of what wikinomics / macrowikinomics.

·         What problems is it solving, or what needs is it satisfying? Can it go further?

·         What does it mean that we need to “reboot all the old models, approaches and structures, or risk institutional paralysis or even collapse.”

·         Where do you think this mass phenomenon might lead in the future?

7.    Social Entrepreneurship:

·         Quote at least three definitions of social entrepreneurship, social entrepreneur, and/or social enterprise, and then write your own definition in your own words.

·         Give three concrete examples of what it has looked like so far in practice.

·         Once again, is this just another way to enhance corporate images, or is it motivated by a sincere interest in helping to solve pressing issues in the world?

·         What is meant by the phrases “double bottom line” and “triple bottom line”?

·         Some good starting places (see videos!): Muhammad Yunus & Grameen Bank; Martin Fisher & Kickstart pumps; Bill Drayton and Ashoka.org; Echoinggreen.org.

8.    Others:

·         What other forms of mutualism and cooperation have you seen or heard about in the business world?


 
 
 I find Peter Russel´s video – Global Brain – fascinating. I found three new ideas that helped me become more conscious about who I am and what is my part on this planet.

I would like my students to watch the video and write a comment on this blog. In a 50-word (minimum) paragraph, discuss three interesting ideas that made an impact on you. Feel free to also respond to each other’s posts.

There are three ways to watch the video:
  1. Watch the video HERE. It’s 35:14 long.
  2. Watch them in four parts online HERE.
  3. If you prefer to download the video HERE, you need to download and install the program (.flv) HERE to watch the video.
 
Happy Watching,

JUN

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    Ernesto JUN Santos

    A University professor, a global educator, a leather artist, and a photographer.

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    http://www.ernestojunsantos.com/

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